If you ask people who have broadband Internet right now, they will probably say it's pretty fast. The Web could be faster though and the answer lies in HTTP 2.0. The Internet Engineering Task Force is holding meetings on HTTP 2.0 this week and Microsoft has offered a proposal to help move things along.
In a post on the interoperability @ Microsoft blog, Jean Paoli lays out the company's proposal to the IETF and their reasoning behind pushing the Web to HTTP 2.0. The proposal is called "HTTP Speed+Mobility" and it covers how moving to HTTP 2.0 is a good move for users on traditional browsers and mobile apps.
Before you go running for the hills over changes to HTTP, worry not. The IETF and Microsoft are both working towards a solution that would keep all current Web content compatible with any new version while preserving the "existing semantics of HTTP."
How is Microsoft going to go about improving HTTP? They're going to start with speed and why not, speed is one of the most important things when it comes to the Web. Improvements wouldn't just make web browsing faster though as it would also make apps faster.
On that point, improving HTTP would be much better for apps as they are the primary driver of Internet content on mobile devices. It would make this better as HTTP 2.0 would decrease the amount of power consumption used in network access. This would increase the battery life of mobile devices. It's a win-win scenario.
Updates to HTTP would also keep the user in control of what information they receive from the Web. It would better allow browsers and apps to see what the user is currently doing and the data it can collect locally. This would allow browsers and apps to deliver only the most relevant content to the user cutting down on needless information being funneled through.
Backwards compatibility with current HTTP compliant services is the key to adopting HTTP 2.0 as quickly as possible according to Microsoft. The new HTTP needs to be built upon previous versions to ensure quick adoption across the Web.
Microsoft and Google have both submitted their own proposals to the IETF over HTTP changes. Google's proposal, called the SPDY protocol, is very similar in that it aims to make the Web faster. Microsoft says the key difference between their own proposal and Google's is that their proposal takes mobile devices and applications into consideration.
Discussions with the IETF are just beginning. There has not been a major update to HTTP since 1999 with the release of HTTP 1.1. It's long overdue for a new version, but it's going to take time to hammer out all the details as we move the Web towards these new standards.
Microsoft will provide previews of what HTTP 2.0 can do at their HTML5 Labs Web site. Check it out for other experimental prototypes that are making the future of the Web possible.